Encyclopedia of Animal Cognition and Behavior

Living Edition
| Editors: Jennifer Vonk, Todd Shackelford


  • Bonner Powell
  • Kristine O. EvansEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47829-6_1906-1



The periodically recurring sexual excitement of mammalian species including cervids (e.g., deer, sheep, goats), elephants, and other mammals.


The term rutting (i.e., the behavior of mammals during the rut) is derived from the Latin word “rugire, meaning to roar. This phenomenon occurs in deer, goats, sheep, camels, bison, moose, elephants, and several other mammals and is particularly evident in species of the Cervidae family. Due to changes in photoperiod, hormones in animals fluctuate, resulting in increased testosterone levels in males and triggering onset of rutting behavior. Similarly, increases in estrogen and other hormones in females triggers onset of estrous in many species. Increased testosterone levels increases male aggression during peak rutting times, which coincides and sometimes releases estrous in females of rutting species.

During non-breeding periods males of some rutting species can be found in...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and AquacultureMississippi State UniversityMississippi StateUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Mystera M. Samuelson
    • 1
  1. 1.The Institute for Marine Mammal StudiesGulfportUSA